Former Liverpool forward Ryan Babel has warned contract rebel Gini Wijnaldum that there is no better place than Anfield.
Babel, 34, who is now back at Ajax after a career spent in England, Germany, Turkey, Abu Dhabi and Spain, still regrets forcing his departure from the Reds in 2011.
His Dutch international team-mate Wijnaldum has threatened to quit Liverpool on a free when his contract expires at the end of the season if they fail to meet his pay demands – and Ronald Koeman wants to take him to Barcelona.
But Babel said: “I spent almost four years at Liverpool under Rafa Benitez and Kenny Dalglish.
“When I left to go and play in Germany, where TSG Hoffenheim had become a big force, it was to become the biggest regret of my career.
“The only reason I left was because I wanted to have more playing minutes to keep my place in the Holland team.
“But you don’t realise how dominating the playing style is at Liverpool until you play in a different team and league.
“I was brought up with really attacking football at Ajax. In the academy, you learn to play that way. When I moved to Liverpool, it was exactly the same. It is in the DNA of the club to play attacking football.”
It seemed Wijnaldum was on his way to the Nou Camp when he rejected Liverpool’s contract offer in the summer.
The Kop club were unwilling to meet his wage demands – or his wish to be handed a three-year deal for a player who has turned 30.
But Jurgen Klopp refused to let the midfielder leave – and the belief at Anfield is that Wijnaldum now wants to stay.
He will be in the Liverpool squad for tomorrow’s clash with Southampton at St Mary’s.
Wijnaldum was signed from Newcastle in 2016 for £25million and has helped Klopp lift the Champions League and Premier League in successive seasons.
And Babel has told him to be careful what he wishes for.
The winger arrived with a big reputation in an £11.5m deal from Ajax in 2007. He left three-and-a-half years later, frustrated by a lack of game time.
Babel said: “I loved every minute I was at Liverpool. Fortunately, Dirk Kuyt was at Liverpool and he was a massive support to me.
“As a Liverpool player you are always in the spotlight. The club is massive.
“Scoring the winning goal against Manchester United at Anfield was the highlight of my time.”
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